Tips for Dining Out with Hearing Loss | Preferred Hearing Solutions
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East Orlando, FL

South Orlando, FL

Winter Springs, FL

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East Orlando, FL

South Orlando, FL

Winter Springs, FL

Background noises plague you every day, and you know how frustrating it can be to have a conversation over the music in the grocery store, the echoes in the subway station, or even daily traffic noises outside the car window. Perhaps the most stressful place we find background noise is in our favorite restaurants. We all love going out for dinner with a group of friends, whether it’s at a fancy place or just the local diner. For those with hearing loss though, a crowded restaurant is one of the most challenging listening environments there is.

Have you ever decided to stay home rather than see your friends because you just can’t follow the conversation? We understand. Even those with normal hearing have trouble hearing in all that noise, so don’t stress. Here are a few tips to help you hear when you’re dining out.

Are Restaurants Getting Louder, or am I Imagining Things?

Over the years, restaurants have indeed been getting louder and louder. Gone are the days of quiet family dinners, as restaurants now turn up the music to set the mood, or encourage customers to eat quickly and leave. Restaurant décor has become more “modern,” with exposed brick wall and a sort of industrial design aesthetic. These bare interiors do not absorb sounds of other diners, silverware clinking, and kitchen noise, making restaurants even more acoustically challenging. Don’t let this stop you in your hunt for some quiet restaurants in your neighborhood.[/cs_text][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false”]Choosing the Restaurant

The first step in enjoying your dinner is picking the right restaurant. While you normally choose a restaurant based on the menu or how far it is from your house in rush hour traffic, it’s time to think about the listening environment. Avoid excessively loud restaurants. No sports bars! Consider the architecture. High ceilings mean there will be more echo, and you’ll have a much harder time hearing the person across the table from you. Save these open plan restaurants for when you’re dining alone, and find a cozy place with lower ceilings, smaller rooms, and carpeted floors that help keep reverberation to a minimum.

Lighting is also important. With hearing loss you rely more than ever on your sense of sight to follow the conversation, reading lips and paying attention to non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions, so a brightly lit restaurant is a must. Try to sit with your back to the window, so you can see person across from you clearly, and won’t be blinded by light shining in your eyes. [/cs_text][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false”]Picking the Perfect Seat

After you’ve decided on a quiet restaurant, the next step is to find the right seat. Make a bee line for the booths around the sides of the room. These will often be quieter than the tables, since at the perimeter of the room sounds aren’t coming at you from all sides, and it’s easier to tune out background sounds. Booths are often high backed, and this will help block some of the sounds coming from the tables around you and help you hear the conversation easier.

For hearing aid wearers, try to sit with your back towards the noise. Your hearing devices were designed to focus on important sounds, with high tech directionality that focuses on important speech sounds in front of you like the sound of your friend’s voice, and automatically tune out distracting background noises like the other conversations happening around the restaurant. Since hearing aids were designed with the assumption that you’ll usually be paying the most attention to the sounds in front of you, you can help the directionality microphones help you hear better by keeping the distracting noises behind you.
[/cs_text][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false”]Avoid the Kitchen at all Costs

Don’t sit anywhere close to the kitchen! This will be the nosiest place in the restaurant, with the sound of clattering pots and pans hitting you every time a waiter opens the kitchen door. If you don’t want to be yelling over the sounds of dicing and slicing and chefs yelling, request a booth far away from the kitchen.

Even for those with normal hearing, background noises can be distracting and even make it impossible to hear the conversation you’re focusing on. For those with hearing loss, background noises can turn dinner conversations into frustrating jumbles of sound, and make dining out at restaurants a frustrating experience.

From casual lunch dates with your spouse to formal work dinners, we don’t want you to miss out on the important sounds or struggle to follow the conversation. Visit us at Preferred Hearing Centers today for a hearing test, and find out more about hearing instrument options.
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